All-Pro Basketball Review

Developer: Aicom Publisher: Vic Tokai
Release Date: 1989 Also On: None

Ahh, 8-Bit basketball, the good old days! The days when you only had two buttons to press and half of the game program didn’t involve telling you how to play it! The NES had a number of basketball games released for it, and this easily ranks in the top three, perhaps even nabbing second place in my opinion.

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Graphically, All-Pro Basketball does what it needs to do. Nothing too flashy or spectacular, but all of the features are programmed well. There are different sized players, in addition to cinematics, a pretty good ending segment and smooth animation. The flicker has been kept to a minimum too, in spite of the number of players on the court. One thing I liked is how they handled the court. When you approach the half-court line, the screen fades out and then switches so you seem to be constantly moving up. This way, you essentially are on one screen the whole time and the brief moment during the fade-in when you pass, for example, allows you to see where your opponent’s players are positioned before you get the ball. The only complaint I could find was the repetition of winning cinematics after each game and the announcer girl, who looks like she’s got a bit of a forehead problem.

One plus in All-Pro Basketball is the sound. It has a very vibrant, catchy theme for the main screens and cinematic segments. During the games proper, I thought the track, though the same thing over and over, fit well and is long enough so it doesn’t seem to be as repetitive as it actually is.

As for the gameplay, All-Pro Basketball takes a little getting used to. Don’t get me wrong, the controls are very fluid, but this game takes a lot more strategy than your typical basketball title for the NES. Passing, jump passing and other manuevers are tantamount to winning. You can’t just run in button-mashing. In particular, the stealing system in this game is spectacular, but takes a few tries to understand. Without the manual, in fact, it’s not that easy to do. I played it first sans manual and wanted to kill it because the computer was destroying me at every go, but once I got the stealing and usage of players down it was enjoyable. I was also happy the fouls seemed realistic and not simple, pathetic usages of sprite collision as you seen in games like Great Basketball for the Master System. In addition, in All-Pro Basketball each player has their own stats that, in spite of a cerain site’s incorrect review, do affect how your players function. Each team has a certain skill that’s more developed than others, so you can choose each one depending on how you want to play, whether it’s primarily defense or the ability to shoot three-pointers. Trust me, there are noticeable differences, something lacking usually. You have several options to try including player vs. player and a huge tournament mode with a password feature. Overall, I was really impressed and have to say this is one of the most entertaining basketball titles I’ve ever played. Check it out here:

All-Pro Basketball has a few features I would deem creative, for the NES at least. Stats for once have meaning and the vertical court-switching format they tried instead of they typical horizontal playing field works quite well and even seems to make the game more playable in the end due to the fade-out/fade-in feature I mentioned earlier. The computer plays tough and you need to figure out a strategy generally for each team instead of milking a single technique, though I did find that running at angles instead of straight tends to get you out of trouble the majority of the time because the computer seems to play in a linear fashion. It also has features you find in plenty of other games, but the little things that set it apart are definitely noticeable.

I played All-Pro Basketball for several months. Yes, that’s right, months. One of the great things about this game is that you definitely can’t complete it in a single sitting. There are seven teams in all and you have to play each of them five times before you move on to the championship. That, however, is also my only problem with All-Pro Basketball. The tournament mode is way, way too long. Each game takes roughly 10-15 minutes to complete and when you consider that you have to play 35 games in all, that means you have roughly 350 minutes, give a couple hundred, before you finish. That’s right, All-Pro Basketball will take you probably around a solid and whopping twenty-four hours of total, straight play before you hit the championship game. No tournament brackets either, just play 35 games and if you win enough you get to play the championship agains the best team. The password feature is nice because you can come back to it whenever you want, but they should have cut it down by at least 20 games or so, because the teams never get any harder. You’re essentially play the same game over and over 35 times, and that’s a little annoying. Still, the fun present herein makes up for most of this.

In spite of the size of the tournament mode, All-Pro Basketball is a very enjoyable basketball title overall. The controls are fluid, the graphics are generally fine, the sounds work well, the innovative usage of the court is a bonus, the defense is incredible, all in all it has the features I would say are necessary for a game of this type. I’d easily rank this in the top three NES basketball games of all time, probably second. It’s definitely worth a look for even the casual NES gamer, and I assure you if you take the time to learn it’s intricacies, you’ll be happy in the end.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 7.3
Written by Stan Write a User Review

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